How to Take Advantage of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses RI

Executive director, Karina Holyoak Wood, explains how local entrepreneurs can access the free program.

What is the Goldman Sachs  10,000 Small Businesses program?
10KSB is an investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing access to education, capital and business support services. The Goldman Sachs Foundation asked Babson College, one of the top entrepreneurial colleges in the country, to help design a twelve-week curriculum that gives entrepreneurs the tools they need to grow and scale their businesses. Small business owners take classes on marketing and selling, negotiating skills, leadership development, being bankable, attracting and retaining employees and more. They also work one-on-one with a business adviser, join a strong network of entrepreneurs and create a five-year growth plan.

What’s the commitment like?
The program is roughly one day a week for twelve weeks at CCRI’s Warwick campus. There are nine all-day modules and two half-day clinics. On module days, people come in at 8 in the morning and it ends at 5:30 p.m. We give them breakfast, lunch and coffee, and everything is covered; there’s no cost for food or materials. So far 251 Rhode Island small business owners have completed the program since we launched in March of 2016, and there are close to 9,000 10KSB alumni nationwide.

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Clockwise from top left: Minnie Luong of Chi Kitchen; a CCRI panel discussion with Champe Spiedel of Persimmon and Karina Holyoak Wood; Jayne Merner Senecal of Earthcare Farm; Jeshua Zapata of Xzito Marketing; Ellen McNulty Brown of Lotuff Leather. Photography courtesy of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

What are the requirements to apply?
This program isn’t for startups, it’s for businesses that are at least two years past the startup phase, but we also welcome 100-year-old family businesses. There have been a number of long-term business participants, like Wright’s Dairy Farm, that wanted to explore new avenues of growth. We look for growth-minded stable businesses that have at least two employees, and business revenues of at least $100,000 in the most recent year. We start with a five-minute initial application so we can make sure small businesses meet the requirements for eligibility. In January, we’ll be taking applications for our summer cohort, and the deadline to apply is February 1 at 10KSBapply.com. We run three cohorts each year.

Who are some of your successful alumni who have completed the program?
We track our graduates’ growth and we find our program has strong impact. Across the U.S., 67 percent of graduates report increased revenues, and 47 percent report creating new jobs, just six months after graduating. For example, locally, Minnie Luong of Chi Kitchen expanded to a larger production facility in Pawtucket; Ellen McNulty-Brown of Lotuff artisan leather goods in Providence increased productivity by 135 percent just six months after graduating; Jayne Merner Senecal of Earth Care Farm in South County successfully designed a plan to package their organic compost to sell retail; and Jeshua Zapata of Xzito Marketing in Johnston has more than doubled his revenue two and a half years after graduating.

Why does the program focus on existing businesses and not startups?
The 10KSB program is designed to meet a specific need in the market — reaching past the start-up phase in order to teach established businesses how to recognize profitable opportunities for growth and then craft and implement a growth plan that will increase their revenues and spur job creation. The objective is to invest in Rhode Island’s established small businesses so they can grow their companies and create jobs in the communities where they live and work.

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